ONGWEDIVA – Although Namibia is classified as a middle-income country and has made remarkable strides in reducing poverty and income disparity levels, there is still a wide gap in income development levels between urban and rural areas.
The Minister of Urban and Rural Development Peya Mushelenga said Namibia today is still battling high levels of poverty and extreme income equality.
“While poverty is found even in urban areas, it is predominantly a rural phenomenon. The rural poor are typically undereducated, have limited access to health care, safe water, adequate sanitation, markets employment opportunities, inputs, security of tenure as well as electricity supplies,” the minister said in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy Derek Klassen.
The remarks were made at the five-day workshop ongoing in Ongwediva.
The workshop seeks to review the implementation and impact of rural programmes by the ministry of rural development and regional councils.
It will also take stock of the activities by other key role players, officers, ministries, public organisations and non-state parties.
Mushelenga further said rural households are vulnerable to food storage and hunger as a result of frequent crop failure, insufficient grazing due to drought, crop pests and livestock diseases, environmental degradation due to overstocking and poor agronomic practices and crime which lead to loss of livestock and crop income.
In addition, rural households because of their status also face poor nutritional intake.
To help aid the situation, government has set out long-term objectives to ensure that poverty is reduced to the minimum.
Furthermore, the government has also adopted a National Rural Development Policy and Strategy that provides deliberate actions aimed at improving living of the rural communities and empowering them to take charge of their development.
Despite the obvious challenges and gloomy picture that is often presented, the minister said, rural areas are home to most vast natural resources and farming activities which if tapped and nurtured can transform the rural areas for the better and also greatly contribute to the realisation of broad national development goals of industrialisation and economic growth.
The minister also expressed concern with regional councils and institutions which do not effectively implement or account for resources geared towards rural development projects.
“This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated,” said Mushelenga.
The workshop is being attended by regional governors, chairpersons of regional councils, local authority councillors and other key staff.